Friday, October 22, 2010

Wilton Manors Electoral Debates

Last night at Wilton Manors' Hagen Park was the debate of the election season.  I do not know of any more opportunities for people to have heard their future elected officials speak before they get a chance to vote.

Looking around the space, I noticed that this year there were fewer people in attendance than there were in the last election of 2008.   Partly because Barack Obama and the chance to reclaim our nation from the Fascism that was the Bush years energized us with Hope.   Partly because early voting meant many have made their decisions and are sitting this night out.

This was for those of you who haven't voted yet.   The early voting is at the Commission Chambers at City Hall, 2020 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors.   I believe that it is available for people through the entire county.  The chambers look strange without the rows of chairs waiting for a commission meeting and rows of little blue plastic stalls and they will remain that way until November 3rd.  My suggestion is to go vote and beat the rush.

Last night we were able to hear everyone speak off the cuff.   They were given questions and timed on their responses.   Commissioner Scott Newton and I seem to be cut from the same cloth - we're both wordy.  It was amusing to hear him get cut off by the person holding the stop watch, Nick Boyko.  There were a couple times where Scott found his muse and really got into the subject and then "TIME!"... I wouldn't have minded hearing him speak just a little longer on those.

This is what I saw from the front row, it is my opinion and nothing more.  I was not paid for this, although I did have some people who are local readers who are not running for office insist that I write my thoughts down.  I will reiterate, THIS IS OPINION, AND UNPAID.  THIS IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS A POLITICAL ANNOUCNEMENT.

There were two on the panel that were less comfortable than the famed Nixon vs JFK Debates or the "I am not a crook" Speech by Nixon. 

Mayor Gary Resnick looked out of place.   For someone who has had the position for two years, he has been widely seen as a dysfunctional and ineffective mayor.  Admittedly I find his recent actions at the Spirit Vigil reprehensible when he turned the vigil into a political rally.  I am ashamed for his lack of propriety in that situation.  Last night he proved that he was not up to the task.  His nerves were showing strongly as he sat there fidgeting through the two hours of the debate sweating as if it were overheating - it was not, I was freezing , and darting his eyes around as if he got caught with his hands in the cookie jar.   He was as he always was and the City has noticed his antics. Hopefully this will move him onto his next career.   Answers that were given were highly reactive instead of pro-active, indirect and evasive he acted like that smacked dog that flinches when you pet him.

The other person who did not belong up there was Julie Carson.  If Resnick's electioneering at the Spirit Vigil were reprehensible, Carson's actions were obscene.  That having been said, she had to do something to tone down her hard edges, she truly looks like someone who is out to get someone.  Of course that is all bravado.  Carson is an empty suit.  She would get started talking and you would quickly realize that she doesn't know what on earth she is talking about.   This person would be a disaster if she got elected.  The circular logic and incompetent reasoning had me wondering how many gallons of cheap coffee she swilled before getting up on that dais.  There was a rhythm to her speech.  She'd get started to speak and rapidly run out of steam doubling back and second guessing herself.  This is a behavior I witnessed when she was mistakenly on the City Commission before and she would hack into somebody and trail off into complete confusion.  This person has nothing to add to the discussion of City Government and needs to go back to her day job - clearly, Julie Carson is Unsuitable for Public Office.

The Four Year seat is currently up for grabs.  There are two positions and three people that are running for the office.  In contrast to the incompetence of Gary Resnick and the completely unsuitable Julie Carson, I found the three running for the Four Year Seat to be a pleasant discussion among people who were content to be with each other and hash out problems in a co-operative manner.   It came out that the newest to the bunch, Steve Zollo was actually coached to run for the office by current office holder Ted Galatis (no website).  It is hard to argue when your competition thinks that you belong in the post.  Steve and Ted both are joined by Scott Newton, an affable business person who is always entertaining while he explains away some arcane piece of public policy in a way that is engaging and will be easy to understand by someone who is not as involved as I or some of the other volunteer corps are.   Ted Galatis brings to the discussion the precision of his Lawyer's background and rounds out the triplet.

The other person running for the Two Year seat is Celeste EllichCeleste is a warm and caring individual who I have had the privilege to know for the last four years.  She has run before and tells people in her own "home spun" style that she has some problems with public speaking.  I'm going to ask Celeste to stop saying that because after watching Celeste in action, I aspire to be as good a public speaker as she was.   Celeste was the equal to the best up there and brings to the table a depth of knowledge that only someone who has more than 2 Decades of Public Service in a volunteer capacity could.   Celeste's knowledge of the Real Estate market will be a strongly needed asset to the City Commission especially in view of the G Resort controversy and the future zoning changes that will be needed in moving the City forward as a Jewel in South Florida instead of our lurching forward under the current administration like a ship without a rudder.   Celeste will bring stability and deep consideration of issues with her.   I highly recommend anyone to get to know this person, I am truly happy I do.

I have saved the best for last.  Joe Angelo.  Joe was easily the strongest speaker last night.   Listening to Mr Angelo was like listening to a concert violin virtuoso playing a Stradivarius.  Well thought out, and often humorous anecdotes would pepper a discussion that illustrates a deep understanding of current, past and future challenges to the City.  I found it particularly instructive to watch the others on the panel when Joe spoke.  I noticed them listening intently at what Joe had to say for something that they missed, and I caught each one at one time or another nodding in agreement.   Joe has an openness that is quite refreshing and a willingness to listen to people.  While he may not agree with what you are saying, he certainly will give you the opportunity to state your case and when you are through you will understand exactly why he feels the way he did and the thoughts that were necessary to come to his conclusions.  Like his election ribbons say "Go Joe!".  Joe Angelo will be a wonderful and energetic Mayor, and that is exactly what we will need to clean up the mess of his predecessor. 


  1. I basically knew who I was voting for, but I appreciated having the chance to have my opinion swayed the night of the debate. I agree with your assessment of Julie (both politically and visually), although I would never say it out loud. I think she's shown a lot more commitment to our town over time. I'm always suspicious of new residents/carpetbaggers who move to town and immediately want to help run it. I am, however, a big fan of Scott's and Celeste really won me over. After quoting Ronald Reagan, Steve is going to have to work harder to earn my trust. I have issues with Gary, but I don't recall a "humorous anecdote" from Joe. Unless you mean his digs at Gary that he didn't back up with any facts. I debated googling his accusations right then and there, but I figure if Joe isn't going to elaborate, why should I look something up. I don't know all of the details of the Gary/Joe/Steve Kelly's Island City News mess, but Joe is very personable and charming in person and that would have gone a lot further than angry grudge holder on Thursday. Oh, he was very polished and rehearsed when he spoke, but when he was done, he would sit down, his face would go blank and he would just stare ahead waiting for his turn, rarely looking to acknowledge others when they were speaking (probably to avoid eye contact with Gary). It kind of creeped me out. You might want to review your video, Moose.
    Aside from that, I had a good time. And yes, the City Commission chamber looks really odd with all of voting equipment in the room.

  2. Roy, Thanks, interesting comments you have there. I'm glad you agreed with me about Julie, especially since I was so shocked at how she abused the vigil. Physical appearance aside, Julie's input in the goings on in the city are almost invariably skewed toward self promotion. It is hard to follow the conversation when she's talking because she's so unfocused and circular. Thinking back to when she was a temporary Interim Commissioner, I'm glad she's not one now. You can see why Julie Carson is a Paralegal and not a Lawyer.

    Scott and Celeste both won me over immediatlely when I moved into the city in 2006. They both take the time to speak with you, and when have their attention, you can be sure that it will be a measured and reasoned response.

    Steve's quote from Reagan was an interesting choice. The quote itself isn't coming to mind, however, I have had some long conversations with him and I will say that Steve is a highly intelligent person. I'm sure the connection he was trying to make was germaine.

    The Island City News is a shill for Gary from what I've seen at every election. If you picked up last edition, Resnick was seen to walk on water, raise the dead and was known to have had a major part in building the pyramids and part the Red Sea, singlehandedly. Meanwhile, Resnick's competition in every election that I have seen in this city have been horrendous and all around awful people. Its a tired hackneyed joke.

    I don't even use the Island City News to line my parrot's cage - it would scare him too much.

    Knowing some of the details in the back story certainly would help with the digs, and being in the front row (my knees can't take being behind someone) and able to watch each and every person on the dais helped. When Joe was talking, he was focusing on certain people, and reacting to them.

    I can certainly appreciate your comment about being glad to hear the candidates speak, but not having it really sway me one way or another - after all you can pretty much guess how I'm voting after reading the posts.

    Thanks, Roy!

  3. Not many of you will remember Mother's Council, but that's where I first met Celeste. We did little events to raise money for Hagen Park (which was very small back then) and everything we did was geared toward children. Celeste has intimate knowledge of the city's workings and I think she would make the best commissioner of all! She knows everyone. She knows who is in charge of what within city staff. And, she knows Wilton Manors better than anyone I know. I hope that everyone recognizes what a jewel Celeste is. I hope they see that her only agenda is public service. And, if those hopes are realized, she will win the seat, which is my greatest hope of all!

  4. Bill, Constance and Roy,
    Thanks so much for the praises above. Wish I had done better for you in the election. Sorry to the 1570 voters that wanted me on our city commission. Wonder what is possibly in store for me next!